Camping is one of the best ways to get outdoors but it isn’t always comfortable. In this post, I’ll teach you how to make camping more comfortable so you can get more enjoyment from your camping trips.
Here are my best tips for making camping more comfortable.
Don’t Change Your Diet
Car campers often make the mistake of turning their camping trips into big hedonistic barbecues. They don’t eat as healthy as they do at home and they end up eating twice as much food.
This type of eating is fun but it isn’t very comfortable.
Big changes to your diet like this can result in food comas, intestinal issues, and even acid reflux. As a result, you’ll end up feeling tired, sick, or both.
To top it all off, you might not be able to sleep as well and you may have to make more trips to the bathrooms. Disgusting pit toilets and portable bathrooms that you have to hike to only make the situation even more uncomfortable.
Wilderness campers often face similar dietary challenges. Spend a couple of days eating prepackaged dehydrated food and snickers bars and you’re likely to suffer from constipation. This also leads to discomfort and by the end of your trip, you’ll be longing for home.
The solution to avoiding this issue is to try to eat a diet that closely resembles the one you normally eat at home. Incidentally, this leads us to my next tip.
Make Cooking Easy
Many people pride themselves on their camping meals. They fill their vehicles up with all sorts of cooking supplies and they spend their entire camping trip either cooking, eating, or cleaning.
But don’t most people go on vacation to get away from those things?
Instead of packing your entire kitchen with you on your camping trip, prepare your food at home so that you’ll only need to bring the basics. Strategies, like cooking one-pot meals or preparing tin-foil meals in advance, can make the entire process of cooking much easier. They also cut down on the number of dishes you’ll need to clean which is always a good thing.
Pack a Water Filter
Just because your campsite offers potable water, doesn’t mean it is palatable. By this, I mean that the water at your campsite might not taste very good.
As a result, you won’t like drinking it and your chances of becoming dehydrated will go up. In case you’re wondering, dehydration will make you less comfortable.
On top of this, foul-tasting water will make your coffee taste bad and I can’t imagine being comfortable without my daily cup of coffee.
Bring a Chair
Most car campers know to bring some chairs with them when camping. If you’re car camping and you’re not already packing some comfortable chairs to sit on, start doing so right away.
Backpackers and canoe campers, on the other hand, almost always forgo bringing a camp chair. I think this is a mistake.
After a long day of backpacking or canoeing, there is nothing better than slipping into a nice comfortable chair. You may pay a little more for a comfortable backpacking chair, but it’s definitely worth it.
Pack Things to Do If It Rains
Sometimes simple boredom can lead to discomfort. One of the top reasons for people becoming bored while camping is bad weather.
A rainy day can leave you trapped inside of your tent for hours on end. Plan for this event by bringing something to do while you’re trapped inside.
If you like to read, bring a book or an e-reader. Prefer to watch television? Bring a portable tv, a tablet, or a laptop with you.
The key is to bring activities that you like to do, otherwise, you’ll be just as bored as you would be if you weren’t doing anything at all. For example, if you don’t like reading at home, you aren’t going to like reading inside of a tent.
Bring a Tarp
A tarp is one of the best items a camper can bring with them on their trip. The number of ways in which a tarp can make you more comfortable when camping is staggering.
The mighty tarp can be used to create additional rain-free areas when it’s raining, it can be used to keep the sun off of you, it can be used to cover ripped tents, it can be used to sit on the ground, and it can be used as a footprint for your tent.
I’d recommend that car campers bring a multitude of tarps in different sizes and that backpackers and canoe campers invest in a high-quality tarp that’s both lightweight and durable.
Pack Anti-Itch Cream and After-Burn Gel
I’m sure you know by now that packing bug spray and sunscreen is a must for any camping trip. Sunscreen will reduce your chances of getting uncomfortable burns and bug sprays will reduce your chances of getting uncomfortable bug bites and stings.
The problem arises when one of these items wears off prematurely or just doesn’t work as well as intended. When this happens you still end up with painful burns and itchy bumps and rashes.
A good anti-itch cream and a good after-burn gel will help relieve the discomfort that comes with these issues. I bring these items with me on every trip I take and invariably either myself or somebody with me on my trip ends up using one of them.
Choose a Level Campsite
You won’t sleep well if your body is in a bad sleeping position. Unlevel surfaces create bad sleeping positions and make it more difficult to sleep. After a few days of this, you’ll be very uncomfortable and irritable.
On top of this, an unlevel campsite is irritating to walk around in and it makes setting camp chairs up more difficult. It can even make starting a fire or cooking a meal harder to do.
Choose a level campsite and you can eliminate this issue before it starts.
Organize Your Campsite
An organized campsite isn’t necessarily a comfortable one but an unorganized campsite is always uncomfortable. Organize your campsite for maximum comfort by making it easy to walk around. You shouldn’t be stepping over guy lines or moving chairs around every time you walk to and from your tent.
Set up separate areas for cooking, cleaning, and staying hygienic. This will make these tasks easier and you’ll get them done faster.
As a result, you’ll get to do more of what you love and less of what you don’t love. Even if this doesn’t physically make you more comfortable, you’ll feel more comfortable mentally and sometimes that is even more important than physical comfort.
Bring a Clothes Line
Nobody feels comfortable when they’re sitting around in wet clothes. Unfortunately, a few days of rain can make all of your clothes wet and they don’t always dry out very well on your picnic table.
Bring a clothesline and you can quickly get your clothes dried out.
Car campers can benefit from this tip but backpackers can benefit even more. The reason being, backpackers typically don’t have a lot of extra clothing with them so two days of rain can lead to all of their clothing being soaked through.
Personally, I find the right lighting to be extremely comforting. This is especially true when I’m someplace unfamiliar or when I can’t sleep. Many people I’ve spoken with feel the same way.
Take advantage of this feeling by bringing some lanterns with you on your camping trip. Use them at your campsite and in your tent and turn one on when you can’t sleep.
If you’re a backpacker, consider buying an inflatable lantern as you’ll save space and weight without sacrificing the convenience and additional lighting that lanterns have to offer.
Don’t Change Your Sleep Schedule
Our bodies love the feeling that comes with complete homeostasis. But if you’re like me, you probably disregard this fact every time you go camping.
You stay up late and then you sleep in and even though you were in bed for 8 hours, you still feel tired when you get up. This is because you’ve messed up your circadian rhythm.
Keep your sleep schedule and you won’t have this problem. Try to go to bed within an hour of the time you normally would go to bed and wake up about the same time you’d normally wake up and you’ll get a deeper and more restful sleep each night.
Headphones can serve multiple purposes. You can use them to listen to relaxing music, you can use them to drown out loud campsites, and you can even use them as earplugs.
Your phone makes a great device for playing music but you might not have access to the Internet, so make sure you have some physical copies of the songs you like downloaded to your phone before heading out.
Also, bring along a small battery bank so that you can recharge your phone when necessary. If you find that it’s running out of power quickly, check to make sure that it isn’t searching for signal in a dead zone and disable it if it is.
Camp Someplace With Flush Toilets
I’ve never met anybody who likes pit toilets or portapotties. In fact, I’d rather use the treeline than a dirty old portapotty.
On top of this, camping near a portapotty or a set of mismanaged pit toilets can lead to complete agony. You’ll spend the entire camping trip catching the scent of human excrement and you certainly won’t feel comfortable at your campsite.
Luckily, there are a lot of campsites with modern bathrooms that you can take advantage of. Also, many of the newer composting toilet systems are built to be completely free so aim to camp at places with flush toilets or newer facilities and you’ll have a much more pleasant and more comfortable camping experience.
Bring Your Own Toilet
If you can’t find flush toilets or modern composting toilets where you want to camp, consider bringing your own. A personal toilet and hygiene tent will eliminate your need to walk to the bathrooms and it will give you the opportunity to choose a campsite far away from the foot traffic and bad odors that these bathrooms bring to the table.
You can buy portable chemical toilets that flush or you can buy dry ones that use a covering material to eliminate odors. If you decide to go with the dry toilet, take a practice run at home as there can be a learning curve to using these properly.
Once you have your own portable bathroom in place at your campsite, you’ll find your daily routine to be a lot more quiet, private, and comfortable.
Bring the Best Bedding You Can
Car campers have a lot of options when it comes to bedding. A car camper can bring a padded cot, an air mattress, or really anything comfortable that will fit in their vehicle. Take advantage of this!
If you aren’t car camping, you’ll have size and weight restrictions to work with. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable when camping.
Invest in a good sleeping pad that will both pad and insulate the ground for you. This way, you’ll be less cold and you’ll have fewer body aches when you wake up in the morning.
Don’t Sit Around a Smoky Fire
I love campfires and for many years, I’d sit around them regardless of how smoky they were. Unfortunately, I’d always suffer for it in the morning.
I’d wake up and my nose and throat would be clogged and I’d smell awful. The next night, I’d do it all over again and it would take a couple of days after my camping trip before my sinuses felt normal again.
Eventually, I learned my lesson and vowed to either make a great fire or to forgo the fire altogether. The most effective way of doing this has been to buy dry firewood to bring with me on my car camping trips.
In fact, I even bring some extra dry wood just in case the person camping near me needs some to keep their fire burning clean. It keeps my lungs nice and clear and I get to help someone out so its an easy and inexpensive double-win.
If I don’t have dry firewood available, I’ll skip the campfire altogether and I suggest that you do so as well.
Get Clean Before You Go to Sleep
Going to bed when you’re dirty and sweaty is a surefire way to make yourself less comfortable. You wouldn’t do this at home and expect to be comfortable, so why do it on your camping trips?
You can learn more about staying clean while camping by exploring my post titled, “How to Shower When Camping“.
Go Easy on the Alcohol
This is another lesson I had to learn the hard way. I rarely drink but when I go on vacation I tend to overindulge and I know many that do the same thing.
The problem with this is that alcohol can affect our body temperatures and mess with our body’s natural ability to sleep properly. While you’re under the influence, you won’t get enough REM sleep and you’ll wake up feeling a little foggy-headed and less well-rested.
Besides this, you’ll probably wake up after the alcohol’s worn off and you’ll feel hot and thirsty. You won’t be comfortable and you may not be able to fall back to sleep right away.
Choose Your Location Based on the Weather
I wouldn’t recommend being a fair-weather friend but there isn’t any shame in being a fair-weather camper. When it’s hot, choose a camping location on a beach, near a lake, or on a river. These areas will be much cooler and you’ll have a better time and sleep much better as a result.
If it’s cold, choose a more sheltered campsite so that you’re not subjected to harsh winds. This will reduce your daily discomfort and you’ll have less noise and more warmth inside your tent at night.
Take More Time Off
Heading into a camping vacation when you’re stressed and overworked isn’t such a great idea. Instead, take an additional day off so that you can relax for a day before you head out on your trip.
Not only will you be physically, mentally, and emotionally more prepared for your trip, but you’ll be less likely to forget important gear. You won’t get a comfortable night’s sleep if you’ve completely forgotten to bring your sleeping pad and pillow.
I hope these practices help you as much as they’ve helped me. If you have any additional tips for making camping more comfortable, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be glad to add them to this post.